Electromechanical Properties and Deformation of Biomembranes

Project: Research project

Project Details


An electric potential difference across the plasma membrane is common to all living cells and is essential to physiological functions such as generation of action potentials for cell-to-cell communication. While the basics of cell electrical activity are well established (e.g. the Hodgkin-Huxley model of the action potential), the coupling between voltage and membrane deformation has received limited attention. To fill this void, a combined theoretical and experimental study of biomimetic membranes in externally applied electric fields will be studied. Specifically, the research seeks to determine the relation between membrane voltage, membrane properties such as bending rigidity, tension, and spontaneous curvature, and membrane shape. The project integrates theory and experiment to analyze both the small thermally-driven bilayer undulations and the large buckling like deformations in an applied electric field. The transformative impact of the project lies in its pioneering research of the dynamic coupling between shape and voltage of biomembranes; our findings will uncover new physics relevant to a broad range of physiological processes involving excitable cells.
Effective start/end date6/1/178/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (CMMI-1748049)


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